China suspended visits by USA military vessels and aircraft to Hong Kong on Monday and hinted at further retaliatory steps against American legislation supporting anti-government protesters in the city.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "In response to the unreasonable behaviour of the U.S. side, the Chinese government has chose to suspend reviewing the applications for USA warships to go to Hong Kong for (rest and) recuperation as of today".
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the Senate and House passed, puts the special treatment that Hong Kong enjoys under USA law under tighter scrutiny linked to the extent of Hong Kong's autonomy from Beijing.
"The determination of China's government to oppose foreign forces interfering in China's internal affairs is firm and unshakable", said Hua, speaking at a news briefing in Beijing today.
Hua alleged that nongovernmental organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch interfered with matters in Hong Kong, but did not disclose what the sanctions against the bodies would entail.
After the rally, these people marched toward the nearby U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, waving the flags and chanting slogans along the way.
Lam again rejected demands made by protesters, including a request for a direct vote to choose Hong Kong's chief executive.
She said Hong Kong will act in lockstep with the Chinese government's decisions in relation to diplomacy.
She went on to say that people in Hong Kong enjoy a "high-degree of freedom", such as "freedom of the press and assembly". Police used tear gas and pepper spray balls in skirmishes last weekend, as protesters blocked streets and vandalized some shops seen as sympathetic to Beijing.
"This is completely unnecessary and very regrettable", Lam further said.
Lam was referring to a provision in the new law that directs the US government to review annually whether Hong Kong retains enough autonomy from China to maintain its special trading status with the United States.
The new act requires the U.S. State Department to report annually to Congress whether Hong Kong is "sufficiently autonomous from China" to justify keeping the city's distinct trading status, and whether China has "eroded Hong Kong's civil liberties and rule of law", as protected by the city's Basic Law.
Visitor numbers in Hong Kong have plunged since the protests flared in June.
That rally followed two other marches earlier Sunday as protesters sought to keep the pressure on city leader Carrie Lam after the recent win by the pro-democracy camp in district council elections and the gaining of USA support for their cause.
The tariffs are the latest in a tit-for-tat row between US President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping, which began around a year ago with the Republican annoyed a crackdown on China's colossal trade empire. Tourism, airline and retail sectors have been hit particularly hard, with retail sales down about 20%.
He said the government will run a budget deficit for the first time in 15 years because of falling tax revenues and greater spending to try to offset the economic slowdown.